Explore Video

PALCS Fast Facts

  • » Cyber charter school for all K-12 students in Pennsylvania.
  • » Log on every school day to complete schoolwork online.
  • » Courses created and taught by certified, easy to reach teachers.
  • » Laptop and materials provided. Books and online resources.
  • » Flexible, personal and successful. PALCS makes it possible!

PA Leadership Charter School (PALCS) is a state-approved public cyber charter school for Pennsylvania students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Since 2004, PALCS has been providing individualized online instruction with teacher created curriculum to its families and currently serves over 2,900 students state wide.

Your PALCS student will receive access to standards-aligned courses, taught by certified and highly qualified teachers. Your teachers will post engaging assignments, teach live virtual lessons, and provide assistance daily as you progress through lessons. Support staff are available for guidance, technical help, and other student services.

We will provide all the tools needed for cyber education. You’ll receive, on loan, a laptop computer and access to educational websites. Depending on what courses you take, you’ll also receive digital textbooks from multiple publishers, physical books, workbooks and kits as needed.

PALCS families can connect across the state by participating in online lessons, attending field trips and joining clubs and activities. You will also have access to several special programs for PALCS students which encourage gifted and special education students, nurture performing and fine arts talents, and inspire young leaders. When you join our community, you become a part of our PALCS family!

Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School provides a full cyber school experience for any student residing in Pennsylvania in grades K-12 regardless of race, religion, sex, ethnic background or any factor used for discrimination. Students under the age of 21 may attend in order to finish their high school education. Kindergarteners are accepted based on the acceptance age and start requirements of the local district. Students may not be expelled from their current district. Otherwise, as a public school, PA Leadership openly accepts all K-12 students in Pennsylvania. View more information about eligibility on our enrollment page.
PALCS is funded by the tax dollars you are already paying for local public education. As a public school, PALCS provides a free and appropriate education to any student in Pennsylvania who wishes to attend.
PALCS has approximately 2,900 students, so there may be approximately 2,900 reasons why families choose PALCS — every situation is different! That said, we do meet with families who have common goals and needs for their students.

Individualized academics, pacing and scheduling

Cyber school allows students to work at a speed that fits their individual learning needs. Students have a window of 1-2 weeks to complete work, allowing them to work ahead or spend extra time on assignments. This setup helps:

  • Gifted students move faster than in other educational settings.
  • Special Education students work in the safety and support of a home environment.
  • Students take specialized courses rarely offered by local districts.
  • Children of families that travel often.
  • Athletes with complex scheduling needs.
  • Those focusing on the arts and needing extra time to develop their talents.

PALCS is not just for students with unusual schedules or needs. It is a great place for any student who has a supportive parent or guardian and would enjoy learning via the Internet.

Combining the best interactive curriculum with skilled teachers who are online every day helps students engage with the material and with their teachers more than in the traditional brick and mortar setting, even allowing some students to progress faster than in other schools.

Health, safety and the home environment

Cyber school minimizes negative socialization by reducing the risk of bullying, drugs, alcohol, gangs, fights, and the fear associated with an unsafe environment. Our school is ideal for students who have trouble attending school for health and social reasons.

PALCS is also a great choice for young parents. We offer a teen parent support group.

Cyber school provides all of the advantages of homeschooling without the added stress and workload placed upon homeschooling parents. Qualified, experienced teachers bring instruction into the safety and comfort of the student’s home. Parents or guardians are able to monitor student progress and provide basic assistance.

Eliminating unnecessary time-wasting like busing, changing of classes, lunch periods, and discipline issues allows students to complete their schoolwork much quicker than in a brick-and-mortar school. This gives families extra time to connect with their community. Students can build friendships within faith-based communities, community sports teams, neighbors, and other home-based learning groups.

Take our compatibility quiz to help think about some ways cyber school may be a good fit for your family.

Several factors make PALCS a unique cyber school experience. PALCS has:

  • Flexible scheduling, as lessons are posted in advance and are available 24/7.
  • PA certified teachers, many with life experience in their subjects, giving direct instruction.
  • Families interacting daily with teachers, as they host live classrooms, provide individual feedback, and send daily messages to students.
  • Electronically recorded grades in a regularly updated gradebook accessible to students and parents at all times.
  • Curriculum from a variety of publishers, carefully chosen to work best in the home setting. We partner with the finest online curriculum companies and many of our textbooks have online components.
  • Teachers who design their own courses, drawing upon the best resources available, each lesson enhanced with the teacher’s personal style.
  • A tiered, complete course of study for grades K-12, with many courses more rigorous than normal courses and all with extracurricular opportunities.
  • An emphasis on computer, typing and writing skills from an early age, because good communication skills are important for effective leadership.
  • An independently run cyber charter program, as opposed to some charter schools which are run by specific school districts.

Differences to look for among cyber schools tend to regard daily structure, curriculum, and teacher involvement — click the links to learn more about how PALCS works. The complete list of both brick-and-mortar and cyber charter schools in PA can be found on the PA Department of Education website.

We are proud of the work we do and our student accomplishments. You may wish to hear directly from PALCS families on our Facebook page, or read our #1 cyber school reviews on niche.com. We encourage families to peruse our website or contact us for details or discuss your specific situation and why PALCS may be the right fit for your family.

Legally, PALCS is a public cyber charter school and is not considered homeschool. While PALCS students are learning at home and assisted by a parent, the term homeschool in Pennsylvania almost always refers to students learning under the PA Home Education Law, which is not for charter schools. Homeschool students in PA are instructed by a parent or supervisor who selects their own curriculum; PALCS is a public school, which still follows the same standards and requirements as traditional brick-and-mortar public schools. PALCS selects the curriculum, and instruction comes from PA-certified teachers.
PA Leadership is open 180 days and runs a schedule similar to other public schools with holidays, winter break and spring break. Traditionally, our first day is in September the day after Labor Day, and the school year ends in June.

The first day of school for the 2018-2019 school year was Tuesday, September 4, 2018. The last day will be Tuesday, June 11, 2019. View the complete school calendar.

The 2019-2020 school calendar will be available in Spring 2019

PALCS does not offer summer courses to the public.

Students are not permitted to be enrolled in two full-time schools simultaneously, whether public, private, home, or charter school. Students who enroll in PALCS are full-time students of PALCS and meet all PA state standards through our courses.

There are, however, certain exceptions: some local school districts will permit a student to take a course at the school. This requires the active participation of the local district, school, and teacher and will often involve a fee. This partnership must be arranged by the parent.

11th and 12th graders who meet a series of enrollment and academic requirements may be eligible for participation in a vo-tech program. Information is available upon request.

PALCS attempts to accommodate any reasonable request from parents. For example, parents who do not believe in teaching music may opt their child out of any music courses. However, core courses, like Kindergarten reading, can not be replaced. In such cases, it is the parents’ responsibility to supplement the curriculum with their own religious beliefs.

As a public school, PALCS may not teach sectarian religious instruction. Any public school may teach courses such as Comparative Religions and The History of (name of religion). In addition, parents may request an opportunity for religious instruction for their children that is facilitated by the school but not paid for by the school. Parents are also free to provide any instruction in their home that they believe complements the curriculum taught by the school. Parents may form groups separate from the school to facilitate this instruction. The role of the PALCS teacher is to neither encourage nor discourage any expression of religious thought that is protected by the U.S. Constitution.

On the 2017-2018 SAT, students scored 1166 overall, higher than the state average of 1073. On the 2017-2018 ACT, PALCS students obtained an average composite score of 26.1, higher than the state average of 23.7. 93 students took 162 AP exams with an average score of 3.9. 87% of PALCS AP exam takers obtained a score of 3 or higher.
For many special education students, PALCS is the ideal school. All our teachers are trained to provide an individual program of instruction for every child. This uniquely prepares them for students with IEPs. PALCS has a special education department with resource teachers working directly with parents, students, and other teachers.

Because IEPs are, indeed, individualized to each student, accommodations are made on a case-by-case basis. Visit the Special Education section of our website for more information.

Title I is a federally-funded educational program designed to improve the academic achievement of students at risk for failure in Reading and/or Math. Title I funds must be used to coordinate and supplement services otherwise required for students in the Title I Program.

Students are selected based not on their income level, but entirely on their achievement level, using criteria chosen by the Local Education Agency (LEA). To qualify, students must achieve at a below proficient level in two assessment criteria which, for grades 3-5, must include the PSSA and may include attendance/suspension, retention, report card grades, anecdotal records, teacher recommendation, and other appropriate assessments. Criteria for students in K-2 must include developmentally appropriate assessments and may include teacher recommendation, parent recommendation, anecdotal records, and other non-paper/pencil assessment tasks.

Please complete this form to request your transcript from PALCS.

Our school is run on a password-protected website, accessible from any computer with Internet access, anywhere in the world. No special software is needed. Students simply log on with their own personal username and password to begin working. More information about a typical school day is available on our school demo page.
Sometimes. Students are required to log on every school day, Monday through Friday with exceptions for holidays. Students are generally not required to log on at any particular hour of the day, and are not required to be online for any minimum length of time, as long as they log on at some point during the school day. Once a student logs on, attendance is recorded for the day. Then he or she should check announcements, PALCSmail, and lessons for all classes. Once lessons are complete, a student can be finished with school for the day or choose to work ahead. This is particularly convenient for students who have part-time jobs or participate in scheduled events or activities like sports or music classes.

In addition to the asynchronous lessons to be completed at any time, students in elementary grades (K-5), students in certain courses like journalism or foreign language, or students who need extra academic assistance will have required online virtual lessons at set times. Upon enrollment, families will work with teachers to select their virtual lesson schedule. This is generally 3 – 4 one-hour lessons per week. An example schedule could be Monday noon – 1, Tuesday from 10 – 11, and Thursday from 2 – 4. These are required online lessons, but the rest of the week’s schedule is completely flexible.

While not a substitute for regular school days, students may do schoolwork on weekends or holidays if they fall behind or will be going on a trip. Just like in brick and mortar schools, parents must submit excuses for missed student days.

The PALCS school system is named “PALCSchool.” PALCSchool is a collection of learning management platforms, including Moodle and Canvas, as well as other educational websites.

  • Multiple lesson types that take full advantage of the Internet, with embedded images, sound, and video, as well as links to external educational websites
  • Multimedia classrooms with real-time features:
    • voice and text chat
    • interactive whiteboard
    • synchronized web browsing
  • Flexible testing that is able to challenge even the most gifted student
  • Automatically graded tests that produce instant results and explanations of correct answers; also, the ability for teachers to grade and respond to open questions
  • Instantly updated grades to a student online progress report, available to both parents and students
  • Access to the most complete, up-to-date curriculum through digital versions of many of our textbooks
  • The ability to communicate with each teacher and student in several modes:
    • Lectures
    • Guided discussion
    • Free discussion
    • PALCSmail (internal and protected from spam)
    • Multimedia Classrooms
PALCS provides a Windows laptop computer with all software and internal storage needed to hold all school programs and files. A webcam is built into the laptop. Families also receive a headset with microphone and a three-in-one printer/copier/scanner. Desktop computers may be provided to families with special circumstances upon request.

Some lessons have students use additional software for tasks such as word processing, audio recording, and advanced math notation. PALCS computers use open-source software that can be used on home computers as well as the school computer.

The school warranties equipment for normal wear and tear. Parents are responsible for paper and print cartridges and damage to the computer by software not provided by the school.

PALCS computers are not available for purchase. Students who withdraw or graduate from PALCS must return all equipment to the school, including computer system and textbooks. PALCS will provide a prepaid return label, enabling the parent to return this equipment with no cost to the parent.

Families are welcome to use their own computers to access our website and do school work.

Students at PALCS participate in interactive learning every day. They interact online with the curriculum, teachers, and their classmates. Open chats organized by grade-level are hosted monthly in multimedia classrooms so students can talk freely to their peers. PALCS also holds exciting and educational monthly field trips and events for students including:

  • Museums (Natural History; Art; Science; History Center; Children’s Museum)
  • Zoos
  • Renaissance Faire, Fall Fests, and other outdoor events
  • Kennywood and Hersheypark Science Days
  • Circus, Stars on Ice, and other shows
  • Fiddlesticks Symphony, Shakespeare plays, and other cultural events
  • Miniature Golfing
  • Movies
  • Picnics
  • Workshops
  • Meet & Greets with teachers
  • Prom

Regional activity coordinators in various parts of the state organize events all over Pennsylvania so that every student has options to attend.

Yes, according to BEC 24 P.S. 17-1719-A (14,) students are permitted to participate in extracurricular activities offered by their home school district provided that they are not offered by PALCS. Students must comply with the policies and meet the specific eligibility requirements established by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association. Students who are members of a sports team with their home school district must continue to meet grade requirements to be part of the team. PALCS will notify the home district when grades fall below a “C.” Whenever possible, PALCS will assist students and parents to secure the opportunity to participate in the extracurricular activities for which they are eligible.

Additionally, PALCS participates in NCAA eligibility. If interested, please speak with your PALCS guidance counselor upon enrollment.

PALCS graduates receive a Tier I Pennsylvania public school diploma, and are thus qualified to pursue any post-secondary education or employment.

80% of our 2015 graduates chose to enter post-secondary education, 14% entered the workforce directly after high school, 3% chose military, and 3% pursued other options.

View our school profile .pdf (or .rtf file) to see a partial list of colleges and universities to which our students have been accepted.

PALCS networks parents both geographically and across grade levels. Parents provide leadership for groups to encourage field trips, study partners/groups and other activities designed for the benefit of the students. PALCS has hired parent representatives to facilitate this process.

Parents are welcome to attend the PALCS Board of Directors meeting held monthly, but should contact the school in advance of the meeting to obtain meeting times and agendas. Click Here to see our Board Meeting Schedule.

Parents can be hired by the school as:

  • Teachers – on-site only
  • Teacher aides – generally on-site only
  • Support staff – on-site only

Parents can be very helpful with public relations for the school by:

  • Contacting state legislators and communicating their appreciation of this alternative form of education.
  • Writing to local newspapers who cover stories of local families that have broader policy implications.
  • Providing word-of-mouth advertising for the school.
  • Being available for interviews by media outlets who want to hear the families’ perspective on PALCS.

Also, Parents can help with fund raising. Various programs/grants are available that enable local PA businesses to contribute to projects for the school and receive up to a 90% tax break on their donations.

Building on the strong emphasis on participation of the Home Facilitator, PALCS encourages parents to voice any suggestions that could help strengthen the school.

Please visit our enrollment page for complete information.
Once we receive your registration packet and additional documents, we will schedule you for the soonest orientation slot available. Orientations are available weekly, though slots are filled on a first-come-first-serve basis. During busy times of the year (our busiest in August and September), you may need to wait longer for an open slot.

You may expect to wait about a week before your orientation. The sooner your registration packet and additional documents are submitted, the sooner we can schedule your orientation. Please visit our enrollment page to see the enrollment calendar and complete enrollment details.

All students will receive additional online school training in the onboarding module for three days after orientation. After this onboarding module is completed, academic courses will be activated. Students enrolling during the summer will wait for our first day of school, which is traditionally the day after Labor Day. Students may go home with computers upon leaving the orientation and textbooks may be sent home with the student or shipped separately. Teachers will accommodate lessons for students waiting for materials.
Possibly. PALCS cannot officially request student records (transcripts, medical records) from your former school until after a student is enrolled. As these documents are requested for the enrollment process, families should contact the local district and request these documents before PALCS enrollment.

Within 15 days of PALCS enrollment, PALCS will send an official form to the student’s local district to notify them about the enrollment and to have the student’s records sent to PALCS. Local districts sometimes require families to sign additional withdrawal documents, so it is best to check with the local district when requesting documents before PALCS enrollment to see if they will require follow-up.

During the school year, do not withdraw your student from your local district until your orientation with PALCS.

Students complete all schoolwork from home, so office trips are rarely necessary. However, there are two situations that require your presence in a location other than your home:

  • When a student applies to PALCS, students and parents/guardians must attend an orientation. Orientations take place in our West Chester and Pittsburgh offices. Our Orientation Team periodically travels throughout the state as well.
  • State-mandated PSSA and Keystone testing must be administered every year for selected grades. PALCS will set up multiple locations throughout the state for the convenience of families so they should not have to travel further than one hour to reach the testing site.

School Demo

Learn about a PALCS school day

School Demo

PALCS by the Numbers

Students State-wide
Graduates since 2004
2017 Honor Roll Students
Enter Post-Grad Education

Year of Operation
Courses K-12
Accepting Colleges C’18
Average 2018 SAT Score
Faculty Members
Support Staff
Masters/Doctorate Degrees
Highly Qualified Teachers

Information at a Glance

Download our School Profile .pdf (or .rtf file) for a quick page-sized overview of PALCS curriculum, programs, and activities, along with grading information, graduate and testing statistics, and a partial list of colleges and universities where Class of 2018 graduates applied and were accepted.

Looking for even more information?

school profile